Pro Member Interview – Steve Smith

Steve Smith - SM

As a partner in the SA TrackWorks and Brkthbeat teams, Steve has co-written, produced and mixed songs for acts signed to the world’s leading labels, including J Records, Universal, Sony, Atlantic, Warner, Jive, Capitol/EMI, and Avex. 

With albums sales over 17 million world wide, he has had songs that have been recorded by such international artists as: Loverboy (Canada), Stacie Orrico (USA), Rouge (Brasil), Tohoshinki (Japan) and Namie Amuro (Asia) as well as having multiple top 10 hits in Canada. 

Their award winning #1 song “Surrender” by Altantic Recording Artist, Laura Pausini was at the time the most radio played song written by Canadians and performed by a foreign artist and reached U.S. Billboard Number One. They have had their songs featured in films and TV including: YTV – The Next Star, Disney’s – Austin And Ally, and American Idol. SA Trackworks also wrote and produced a single for the mega U.S. group Smash Mouth of “All Star” fame and most recently; Meghan Patrick recorded their co-written song, “Forever Ain’t Enough Time”, with guest vocals by the legend Vince Gill. 

This year, Steve, known as Steve In The Mix on his social networks, has started a YouTube channel to guide up and coming songwriters, singers, rappers, and producers on the come up. We have created our very own Youtube playlist featuring all of Steve’s videos. Go check it out!

 

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Writing and producing for other recording artist is mostly what I do. You wouldn’t want to hear me sing. I do know what an excellent performance sounds like and I feel like I can recognize when a song is unique and compelling. Working with an artist who is able to make a song come alive is a privilege. 

  • How did you learn your craft – was it “formal” or “informal” music education?

It was a mix of both. I started as a musician, went to college to study music performance and had my eyes opened to the high level of musicianship that makes a world-class performer. My informal training, but perhaps higher level training, happened as I found myself in the room when master producers and songwriters were at work. The recording studio always fascinated me, and I was lucky enough to learn the craft of songwriting from people who were professionals. I learned about the apparent things like structure, chord changes, approach to lyric writing, but the magic happened when great songwriters used the tools to create emotion. I’m still a student of songwriting, producing and mixing. I love that aspect of it. 

  • Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?

Collaboration is key. Learning to collaborate is a skill in itself. It’s a great recipe for staying fresh. So many times a crazy idea is just one adjustment away from being a brilliant idea. Be brave enough to throw all ideas into the room. Sometimes they bounce back in ways that are incredible.

 

#thePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite 

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Pro Member Interview – Andrew Allen

andrew allen - sm

Allen’s DIY ability and optimistic attitude have served him well. He’s scored five Top 10 hits in Canada, 2009’s “I Wanna Be Your Christmas”, 2010’s “Loving You Tonight” which was lodged in the upper reaches of the charts for more than 22 weeks. 2011’s “I Want You”, 2015’s “What You Wanted” and 2016’s “Favourite Christmas Song”! 

His benchmark single “Loving You Tonight” was a lilting, sunny tune about an ideal romance, “Loving You Tonight” helped put Andrew on tour with acts like Bruno Mars, One Republic, Andy Grammer, The Script, Train, Joshua Radin and The Barenaked Ladies… with the official music video garnering more than 4 million views and over 100,000 copies sold worldwide. 

As a songwriter, Andrew’s written with some incredible writers and artists, including Meghan Trainor, Rachel Platten, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tyler Shaw, and Toby Gad (writer of ‘All of Me’ – John Legend, ‘If I Were a Boy’ – Beyonce, ‘Bigs Girls Don’t Cry’ – Fergie etc) to name a few… and is credited with writing songs for Nick Howard (winner of the Voice Germany), Germany pop icon Mario Novembre and EDM singles for Project 46, Ilan Bluestone and the song ‘Last Chance’ that can be found on Kaskade’s Grammy Nominated album as well as the Quadruple Platinum Italian smash “Ad Occhi Chiusi” which was co-written by Matt Simons for Italian Superstar Marco Mengoni and Latin America’s boy band CD9’s Gold selling song ‘Dime’. 

In addition, you may have heard his songs featured in various TV Shows and Movies, including the blockbuster Taylor Lautner film ‘Abduction’, reality show ‘The Bachelor’, UP Networks ‘Bringing up Bates’ and the most recent Folger’s Coffee commercial! 

Radio play and songwriting aside, Andrew is a true live performer with an exceptional voice, incredible songs, some serious live looping chops and limitless energy… not too mention a spatter of comic wit and story-telling ability that helps create a dynamic and interactive live show. He’s definitely an artist that embodies the term ‘live’.

Below is our interview with Andrew Allen:

  • How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artists?

When I started writing I was just writing off the cuff, just spit balling it thinking of whatever I could think of. And, after working with a lot of other writers and collaborating (which can be awkward at first I recognized how important it is to be poignant in what you’re saying to keep away a lot of the extras bits and pieces and to really hone in to what exactly you’re trying to say in the lyric and also to pair it well melodically. And so, I think that the evolution of my own writing has become much more refined and I recognize that it’s definitely a muscle you need to continue work on and if you don’t it gets weak. So a lot of people are like “I’m not inspired to write today” and I disagree with that. I think that you need to write as often as you possible can to keep that muscle active. 

  • What is your fondest musical memory?

So, this is probably about 2 1/2 years ago maybe more. I had flown a friend out to LA where I was living at the time and I said lets write some songs. So the first song we wrote was terrible (haha). And then then second (the next morning) – I had gone to bed the night before and my wife had said to me “I’m very, very confident that I’m pregnant and I’m having a baby girl.” And we hadn’t figured it out for sure yet, but she was very convinced and I believed her. So the next morning I didn’t want to tell him that but I felt very inspired to write sort of a life song. And I all of sudden realized “Wow, I never thought about being a dad and the fact that maybe one day I could also be a Grandfather.” So him and I wrote a song called “Time” and it took us about 45 minutes and it just came out and it was all about the times that you would want to teach to that little human. The neat thing for me was that we recorded a demo of it and I sent it to my publisher and about a year later they contacted me and said they wanted to use it in a Folgers commercial and I thought “that sounds amazing!”. But you never know what those commercials are going to be. So when I saw the commercial, there’s a little girl sitting at breakfast bar and she’s colouring and her Dad comes down and pours coffee into a to-go mug and then he’s about to leave the house and realizes “No, I think I’m going to stay” and he pours his coffee into a #1 stay at home mug and sits down beside his little girl. So the fact that they used a song that was inspired by the birth of my daughter to represent this moment was really special to me.

  • What would be your advice to other creators?

I think .. always challenge yourself. I think if you are writing a song and you’re like “this is the best song I’ve ever written” or whatever – Y’know, Rachel Platten – She’s a great inspiration on this front where before she released “fight song” she wrote a hundred songs before it. And if you talk to other Artists, they just keep churning it out. And not to say your first song isn’t your best song but I think that a lot of new writers will say to me “How do I get a publishing deal? How do I get a record deal?” And my advice to them is always that people want to get onboard a moving train and you have to be moving and challenge yourself. If you’re trying to write songs for the radio, listen to the radio and see what’s coming out and compare your songs against them. And if they’re not good enough write harder, write better, and collaborate. Challenge yourself – that’s my advice. 

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC

Pro Member Interview – Tyler Shaw

Tyler Shaw - SM

Platinum-selling singer-songwriter Tyler Shaw’s sophomore album presents an all new Tyler to the world. Now 24, and newly engaged, his first single “Cautious,” with its darker, sexier Timberlake-style vibe, will be serviced to radio Jan. 26; the full album will follow in early fall.

Originally a small town boy from Coquitlam, BC, the Chinese-Canadian Shaw now calls Toronto home. He has earned national appeal with an incredible six singles off his 2015 full-length debut, ¬Yesterday. He also co-wrote all but one of the 13 songs, and several of them hit the top 10 at radio; most notably, the certified platinum track “Kiss Goodnight” and gold singles “House of Cards” and “Wicked.” 

Tyler’s new material was written and conceptualized in London, England, and recorded and produced in Toronto with Alex “Pilz” Vujic. Pilz, his long-time collaborator, co-wrote and produced three of the hit songs on Yesterday. 

New songs — co-written with Pilz and various collaborators for an album later in fall 2018— include the full sounds of “Help Me,” which deals with depression and isolation, and the haunting duet “Anybody Out There” featuring Toronto’s Amaal Nuux, about the lack of true human connection. The song “With You,” pens the love story between Tyler and his fiancé, and is brought to life with the help of Neil Ormandy (James Arthur). On all tracks, Tyler has assisted with production and plays electric, acoustic, and bass guitar. 

Tyler was always into creating original music. Influenced by his older brother, his first instrument was the drums at age six and piano was always in the house, because his mother played. Then, fatefully, he picked up guitar in his early teens and started playing and writing songs for himself. 

In 2012, after winning a national singing contest, Tyler penned a singles deal with Sony Music Entertainment Canada. In 2014, he was recognized by the music industry with a JUNO Award nomination for ‘Breakthrough Artist of the Year.’ Then came gold single “House of Cards” in 2015, followed by Yesterday in September of that year. With all this success, Tyler was flown between Toronto and Los Angeles to record a debut album, working with many top writers and producers. During these formative years as a young man, combined with the pressures of a recording deal, he struggled to find his authentic artistry and develop as an artist. 

“I was looking for guidance and direction because I was so new in the industry when I first started, but now I have a way better understanding of how everything works and of how to guide the art. My art,” Tyler says. “This is my career, my music, my platform. I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously. I had an eye opening a year and half, and was like ‘if it feels right to me, then it’s right.’” 

Since the debut of Yesterday, Tyler has been busy with big events such as, hosting and headlining We Day events nationwide, performing for HRH Prince Harry and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Invictus Games launch in Toronto, and starring as lead actor in a feature film The Meaning of Life, which premiered in summer 2017. He has opened for massive artists such as Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara, as well as toured with Selena Gomez. 

With a refined perspective and approach towards his music, Tyler is now prepared to present his most authentic self with his sophomore album. A compilation of classic pop songs, introspective ballads and contemporary production, this artist now has a sound he identifies with and asserts is truly him.

Below is our interview with Tyler!

  • What inspires you to create music?

 Everything. People watching, noises on the street, my mind in constantly creating melodies, rythyms and chord progressions.

  • Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?

Do what feels right.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Yes and I love lending my artistic style to others. I wish i could do it more actually!

#thePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #StayCreative 

Pro Member Interview – Luke McMaster

Luke McMaster - SM.png

Formerly one half of Gold selling Canadian duo McMaster & James, Luke McMaster cut his teeth on some of the biggest acts of the day, including sharing the stage with Randy Bachman, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and more.  An in-demand songwriter with multiple credits and collaborations with such global superstars as Rihanna and soul music icons like Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, Luke’s first love has always been singing, performing and connecting with his audience.  

In the early spring 2016, Luke released his sophomore album TRENDING. A modern collection of original tracks inspired by classic soul and early Motown, in the vein of throwback artists like Michael Bublé and neo-soul group, Maroon 5.  

Luke is currently working on his next project ICONS OF SOUL which features co-writes with some of the most celebrated songwriters of the early soul era including Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals and Lamont Dozier who has over 80 top 10 hits to his name, including 13 in a row for the Supremes.  To find out more about ICONS OF SOUL, follow Luke on facebook and instagram or you can follow the project development on Luke’s ICONS OF SOUL blog. Below is our interview with Luke McMaster.

 

  • What inspires you to create music?

A love of the craft of songwriting. The high you get from creating something that didn’t previously exist out of thin air. Music is a universal language and it’s incredibly satisfying to share, communicate and hopefully elevate.

  • Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who you give a “nod” to whenever possible?

Legends of Motown like Lamont Dozier. They created the fabric of pop music from early blues and gospel and transformed it in a way that is sometimes taken for granted.

  • If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be?

Stevie Wonder.

  • Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?

Create your own opportunities. Don’t wait for the industry to find you, be creative not just with your music but with the projects that will drive your music.

  • If the music community could do one thing better what would it be?

Further what SAC is working on. Become more unified.

 

#thePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #StayCreative 

Pro Member Interview – Matty Galaxy

Matty Galaxy - SM

Rhythm is the thread that has woven the path for DJ and Producer, Matthieu Bohemier a.k.a Matty Galaxy. What started as a fascination with rhythm as a child has grown into a rising career, having already shared stages with international DJs, such as Grand Theft, Ryan Hemsworth, Zedds Dead and more. Matty is part of the next generation of up coming producers and is currently in L.A working alongside producer “Bongo” By The Way. Below is his interview with S.A.C.:

 

  • What inspires you to create music?

Anything and Everything. I could be sitting anywhere, mid conversation and hear a song in the distance that has a awesome sounding section I would love to sample. It could be a rhythm of a bird chirp, a cup of coffee or even something visual like art or a movie. I make a point to always have my ears open ALWAYS and let the inspiration flow to me. The sense of freedom while creating is also something that will always inspire me to create more music.

  • Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who you give a “nod” to whenever possible?

Danja is hands down my favourite producer. I spent a lot of time in Highschool studying his instrumentals while walking the halls. When the time came for me to decide what I wanted to spend my life doing, his music made it easy for me to decide that production is for me. I soak in a lot of different styles in my beats, I always try to pull from different genres and not be stagnant. I definitely learned a lot from listening to Danja and given the chance I would have to thank him for inspiring me to chase my dream and to be fearless while creating.

  • If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be?

Okay.. There is a ton but to narrow it down I would love to work with other producers such as Danjahandz, Max Martin or Cirkut. These guys are sooo creative and keep me inspired.

  • Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?

One thing I have learned is that, face to face songwriting sessions are soooo Important! Of course the internet is huge and you can send music back and forth with someone. There is something so different about the energy exchange when your in the same room with someone, you learn so much about each other and get to play off each others energies. I would also say to go to one of the bigger Cities. Risk it all.. go to a place like Los Angeles and stay there as long as you can. I’ve found the universe knows when you are making sacrifice and will reward you. I spent a whole summer DJ’ing weddings and working at a pizza shop full time to save up to move to LA for 4 months. I sacrificed all my time to put myself in the best position possible and it paid off. I met my mentor Bongo By The Way the FIRST month I was there and I recently had my first professional music placement with him. Take the Risk, Always..

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #StayCreative 

Pro Member Interview – Thrillah Kane

Thrillah Kane - SM
Dartmouth born emcee Thrillah is easily the most buzzed about artist in Halifax’s thriving hip-hop scene. One of Thrillah’s best qualities is his ability to think and rap sensually. His luscious flow combined with beat pauses that highlight his tongue-twisted lyrical pace. Thanks to versatile and energetic artists like Thrillah, Halifax is seeing a new wave of rap culture. Here is our interview with this up and coming hip-hop artist:

 

  • What inspires you to create music?

The right environment with good vibes good people and the ear candy instrumentals also things that go on in my life could really inspire the creative side of a record.

  • Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?

I would normally go through several beats, choose one to vibe with and record multiple voice memos with different styles, flows and stories over the beat until the proper one stands out to me.

  • How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artist?

I’m most comfortable with the hip-hop/rap side of things. I always do enjoy writing R&B and I’m never afraid to step out of my comfort zone and try working with different genres of music. The music has gotten stronger, better quality and the stage presents also has strengthened. I’m much more comfortable in front of a crowed. Before it was more on and then off the stage type of deal, now once I get started I don’t want to leave, I love to interact with the fans and just make sure everybody is satisfied before the shows done.

Thank you for joining our Association! #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite 

Pro Member Interview – Wolf Castle

Wolf Castle - SM

21 year old Wolf Castle is a two-time ECMA Nominated Mi’kmaq Rapper, Singer, Producer and Songwriter from Pabineau First Nation in New Brunswick.

Fresh out of University with a degree in Theatre – Wolf Castle is a natural showman and emcee making waves in the rap world with his unique style of music. Seamlessly blending traditional hip-hop with modern pop swagger. His vision and creative mind doesn’t follow the ordinary and delivers a message and perspective that is honest and original. Always writing music and striving to evolve, he tackles a wide range of musical styles from fun pop-party tracks to dark and brutally honest stories.

Growing up, Wolf Castle was surrounded by a family of artists and creators, his mother and uncle were both Rappers performing under the names “M03” and “Red Suga”. Inspired by the self-made artists in his family, Castle followed in their footsteps and continue the family business of music and artistry. At the age of 17 he decided to start taking music seriously and self-released his first commercial album “TG17” under the name Tristan Grant which was nominated for the “Aboriginal Artist of the Year” award at the East Coast Music Awards. Since then he’s been working under the name Wolf Castle and has released two more albums, 2016’s “Exit Cranium” and 2017’s “The Artificial to Original”.

Wolf Castle’s music can be found on iTunes, Spotify, TIDAL and Soundcloud. Read Wolf Castle’s interview with the S.A.C. below:

  • How did you learn your craft? 

Basically the most informal training you can imagine, zero informal training. The most I ever got was that I took 1 or 2 music classes in high school. It was important, I learned my major and minor skills on piano but that was about it. Other then that, when I started making music I didn’t know how to do anything, I didn’t know how to structure a song, I didn’t know how to play any instruments, I didn’t know how to record myself or write anything. I basically just did it so much that I learned, just from doing it. I got addicted to song writing through the process of just becoming obsessed with it and not willing to be a perfectionist at all. 

  • Do you have a process to songwriting?

My songwriting, instrumentation, and composing method is extremely sporadic and insane and definitely doesn’t have a lot of planning before hand. It’s more of a “figure it out as I go kind of thing”. So basically, most of the time I start writing a song I don’t even know what it’s about yet, I just figure it out. I guess you could compare it to free styling. I’ll listen to music that I really like, that inspires me, and I’ll get a vibe from that and words will just start coming to me. I’ll start free styling over it and sometimes it works and I’ll get a bunch of lines out of it and when I read it over again I’m like “Oh, this could be something”. And then I develop a song from that point. I don’t necessarily sit down and say “Okay, I’m going to write a song about love and the key is going to be “A” and it’s going be this tempo.”  I mostly just write lyrics and create something out of whatever shows up. I write songs sporadically and very quickly. I can’t stop, it’s like an obsession. I write a lot on my phone too, so if I’m waiting somewhere, or if I’m driving I’ll park (and write), basically anytime lyrics pop in my head. Thank god I have a phone with a notepad I can write in, I write in the tub, I write in my car, I write everywhere.

My family is also very musical. My Uncle for a long time a rapper, he went by Red Suga. He operated on the East Coast and he showed me how to make music also. We used to get together over the Christmas break at my Grandparents house and we would make a song every night over the Christmas holidays. He taught me how to not be a perfectionist, just got for it, get in the vibe it, and just create. We would come up with a hook, we’d make a beat, we’d write, we’d rap it, mix it, and put it on SoundCloud that night. 

  • If you could collaborate with any other music creator who would that be?

If I could pick anybody on planet earth .. I would totally pick Tyler, The Creator for sure. He’s definitely someone who has influenced my sound. Him, Odd Future, or Mac Miller, anyone who came up independently or from there own clout really inspired me and showed me “Oh, I should do it too!” right. His sound is so awesome, I just love anything he puts out. He’s definitely one of those creators that influences a lot the way I want to approach music, being a rapper, and putting music out as an art form in terms of presentation, cool pictures, good outfits, and all the artistic direction surrounding the music as well as good music. 

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC